The ETHIOPIA tartan and the Nobel Peace Prize


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This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Abiy Ahmed Ali, President of Ethiopia, “for his efforts to achieve peace and international cooperation, and in particular for his decisive initiative to resolve the border conflict with neighbouring Eritrea.” The next initiative he says is to unite the 80 or so tribes and ethnic groups that make up the 105 million population in one of the world’s oldest and poorest countries.

The flag of Ethiopia uses the colours red, yellow and green, which have come to be known as the ‘Pan-African’ colours, and have been adopted into the flags of a dozen other nations. The Ethiopia tartan comprises these, along with the central blue circle and gold pentagram, to create a unifying symbol that embodies an entire nation. The unique qualities of tartan are such that this ‘national’, inter-tribal symbol can be used in a wide variety of ways and forms from every-day and ceremonial clothing and accessories, to giftware and printed paper goods.

Alache Malia Ode OBE, lecturer in International Development at Birkbeck College, University of London described each of the designs in the ‘tartans for Africa’ range as

Tartans that inspire self-pride, a kind of cultural connectivity that is positive by using a product from one culture to infuse cultural relevance in another. In a subtle way, it represents the entirety of what multiculturalism, interculturalism or whatever ‘isms’ seek to achieve.’

The world recognises tartan as Scottish in origin, but gifting this unique design to Ethiopia at a time when it is once again in the international spotlight can only highlight the ‘ism’ of our common humanity in a way that benefits both nations.

To celebrate President Abiy Ahmed Ali’s achievement International Tartans have created a unique gift in the Ethiopia tartan which will be sent to the Ethiopian Embassy in London for forwarding to Addis Ababa.

The Ethiopia tartan on display at ‘Tartans for Africa’ fashion show:

ethiopia tartan

United by the Tartan – Scotland vs Japan Rugby World Cup 2019


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On Sunday, the 13th of October, Scotland plays against Japan in their final group match of the 2019 Rugby World Cup. It’s all to play for as only the winners will qualify for the quarter-finals of the knock-out stage.

The as-yet-undefeated Japanese team known as the ‘Sakuras’ have been sensational so far beating world No 1 Ireland in their opening match and following up with wins against Russia and Samoa.

Japanese fans all over the world are gearing up for the occasion. This image shows three lovely young Japanese girls in Edinburgh dressed in their Sakura tartan outfits. It’s just a pity that they-re not playing in the front row for Japan! Or are they?

sakura taran

Bordersbags – bags with heart and soul


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As we venture ever further into this great ocean of madness that has gripped our daily lives, every now and then we come across a little island of sanity that gives us hope. It may be small, tiny in fact in the great scheme of things, but hopeful nevertheless.


ReTweed is one such island: a social enterprise based in the picturesque town of Eyemouth on the Berwickshire coast where women are being trained in the traditional crafting skills, in what once the heartland of Scotland’s textile industry. Run by a small highly-efficient management team and staffed by dedicated volunteers, some sixty-four women of all ages have completed a certificated course which has given them the qualifications and skills needed to enter the world of work. It has also given them a unique opportunity to work as individuals and as part of a team. For me, a visit to ReTweed’s workshop in Eyemouth’s High Street is a happy few hours amongst happy people.


International Tartans has worked closely with ReTweed for the last three years. What began as a donation of scraps of tartan has developed into a commercial relationship in which ReTweed have supplied us with a wide range of tartan accessories for customers in over a dozen countries. We are currently working on the development of new products, but this latest venture by ReTweed is entirely their own. Bags are just bags you might say, but Bordersbags takes them to a new level. Made by graduate trainees from surplus curtain material these simple, practical Tote bags give everyone the opportunity to do something positive. As one supporter remarked:

“What a fantastic initiative, combining lots of really positive work in one amazing project! Supporting women, developing skills, bringing communities together, supporting entrepreneurs, reducing waste to landfill and reducing plastic, supporting food banks, it’s incredible!”

International Tartans has ordered four bags: two will be donated to the local foodbank and the two others will be sent as gifts to Greta Thunberg and Nicola Sturgeon. And as an added bonus for me personally, ReTweed has made my Christmas shopping into a no-brainer. Everyone will get a Bordersbag or a photograph of the one going to a foodbank in their name.

For more information about Bordersbags and how to order one visit—plastic-free-bags

Eunice Olumide at the Edinburgh Book Festival


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Edinburgh born supermodel Eunice Olumide has worked all over the world, walking the catwalk for legendary designers including Mulberry, Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane and Harris Tweed. In ‘How to Get into Fashion’, she shares insider tips on her sought-after industry and in this event opens the door into the rarefied world of haute couture. Olumide appears in conversation with Elizabeth Paton, European styles correspondent of The New York Times.

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This is Eunice modelling the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee tartan as a hostess at the Herald Fashion Awards in Glasgow. You can order the tartan cloth at



ReTweed will be attending the Social Enterprise World Forum in Addis Ababa


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It’s been a great August for International Tartans accessories supplier, ReTweed, the social enterprise based in Eyemouth, Berwickshire.

It has been announced that Founder and Director Hazel Smith will be part of a Scottish delegation led by Cabinet Secretary Aileen Campbell MSP attending the Social Enterprise World Forum in Addis Ababa this October along with some 1200 delegates from around the world.

Hosted by the British Council the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) is the leading forum for international exchange and collaboration in social entrepreneurship and social investment. The annual event was first held in Edinburgh in 2008 and has since been held on six continents. This is a historic occasion as it is the first time the SEWF will be held in a developing economy.

Hazel will be delivering a paper outlining the creation, development and future plans for Retweed as a model social enterprise and, as an addition to this unique occasion, the volunteers and trainees at ReTweed are busy making a range of accessories in the Ethiopia tartan as gifts for their hosts. The Ethiopia tartan is from International Tartans ‘Tartans for Africa’ range.

The Ethiopia tartan at the ‘Tartans for Africa’ fashion show. Full video here.

tartans for africa

As a division of International Tartans ‘Tartans for Africa’ is a project comprising the registered tartans of some twenty African countries. Offered as a unifying national symbol for each country, ‘Tartans for African’ uses these tartans to generate funds for numerous ‘good causes’. From each purchase a 10% contribution is made to an appropriate ‘good cause’ – ‘the 10% solution’. Apart from individuals, schools and charities, customers include a number of MP’s and MSP’s and the Scottish Government.

The Catalunya Escocia Tartan


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Letter published in The National Newspaper Thursday 8th August

It may interest you to know that the good people of Catalonia actually have their own tartan. Commissioned by Catalans in Edinburgh the Catalunya Escocia tartan is registered no. 11163 on the Scottish Register of Tartans. The colours are based on the ‘Estelada’, the flag of the independence movement in Catalonia.

It was launched at a fashion show in Glasgow, the occasion being the ‘Football Fashionistas’ fashion show at the second Tartan & Turban Burns Supper at the Thistle Hotel in aid of ‘Show Racism the Red Card.’ It represented Barcelona.

The event was organised by the Sikh community in the West of Scotland and compered by Hardeep Sing Kholi. His fee was a kilt in the Spirit of India tartan.

Sakura Metallica


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The Sakura Metallica was created by Mrs Carole Hebberd in Waipu on the North Island of New Zealand for the annual ‘Art ‘N Tartan show’, an event featuring original creations in a combination of art and fashion that must be wearable. International Tartans donated a piece of Sakura tartan. The composition was runner-up overall and easily won the People’s Choice vote.
The design combines elements of a Samurai and a Highlander with overtones of native Maori costume celebrating the annual arrival of the cherry blossom (sakura is Japanese for cherry blossom).
Waipu was settled by some 800 Scots in the 1850s. Cleared from the Highlands of Scotland they found Nova Scotia unsuitable and made the perilous journey to New Zealand. Each year the people of Waipu stage a Highland Games and regular Scottish events throughout the year. Art ‘N tartan began as their contribution to Tartan Day.  Long may it continue.

The FINNISH tartan


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Congratulations to Finland which has taken over the Presidency of the European Union Commission for the third time. Finland is a valued member of the International Tartans family.

From the Middle Ages, multitudes of Scots flocked to Russia, and some of them became the most famous names of the Scottish Diaspora. Literally, hundreds of Scots became distinguished in the history, industrial development and culture of this part of the Baltic. An envious English observer noted in 1805 that, ‘to come from the north side of the Tweed is the best recommendation a man can bring to St. Petersburg’. At this time modern-day Finland was a Grand Duchy and still part of the Russian Empire.

By one of these strange acts of fate master machinist James Finlayson of Penicuik’s arrival in St. Petersburg coincided with Czar Alexander I’s desire to promote Russia’s industrial development, and on a tour of the neighbouring Grand Duchy of Finland in 1820, Finlayson discovered the fast-flowing waters at Tammefors (Tampere):: the perfect place to make machinery for Russia’s fast-expanding empire. And from making textile machinery Finlayson soon progressed to making the textiles themselves. A devout Christian, Finlayson’s new factory at its peak employed over 3000 workers and was a model of good management.

And so Finland’s industrial revolution was born and Finland’s second city of Tampere arose.

The Finlayson brand still survives to this day as does his reputation as marked on his headstone. “His spiritual qualities and his love of mankind have seen his name being one deeply respected in Finland’s industrial and national history”

The Finnish tartan combines the colours in the flags of Finland and Scotland.

finnish tartan

Registered with the Scottish Tartans Register  No. 3179.


The Life of St. George and the St. George Tartan



The life of St. George is shrouded in legend, but he was almost certainly born in the Holy Land. Converted to Christianity, he was imprisoned and tortured by Emperor Diocletian (245 – 313 AD)., and upon refusing to recant his faith he was eventually beheaded. The Emperor’s wife Alexandria was so impressed by his courage that she became a Christian and so too was put to death.

The best-known legend surrounding St. George is that of the dragon. According to this legend, a pagan town in what is now Libya was being terrorised by a fierce dragon. To placate the insatiable beast the locals began to sacrifice their own townspeople. Finally, the local Princess was to be sacrificed, but good St. George came along, slaughtered the dragon and rescued the fair Princess. At this, the townsfolk converted to Christianity.

In 1222 the Council of Oxford declared 23rd. April as his Feast Day, and he eventually became the Patron Saint of England sometime in the 14th Century. It is traditional for men to celebrate St. George’s Day by giving their ladies a red rose to honour the memory of St. George and the Princess he saved from the dragon.

The St. George tartan has been designed to incorporate those emblems which best represent England as a nation:

The RED Cross of St. George on its WHITE field, surrounded by the three lions passant which form the Arms of England, and set in BLUE symbolising its island nature and dominance of the High Seas, laced with Royal PURPLE representing 1000 years of enduring monarchic tradition.

Registered on the Scottish Tartans Register No. 3178.


The Wounded Warriors Project and the Spirit of Ukraine Tartan


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The Wounded Warriors Project is a US-based global non-profit organisation that cares for US military service veterans and their families.

International Tartan was asked to provide scarves in the Spirit of Ukraine tartan as a gift for WWP volunteers in Ukraine. The scarves themselves were made by volunteers and trainees at Re-tweed, a social enterprise based in Eyemouth in Berwickshire, which trains women in tailoring and hand-crafting skills.

Despite the short notice, the scarves were made and arrived in Ukraine in time for the handover ceremony. The images show General Gavrilov and the Ukrainian team at the presentation ceremony in the magnificent FC Dynamo Kiev Stadium

The team are coming to Scotland in June and will be wearing their scarves when they run in a fund-raising cross-country event.

International Tartans: uniting the world, one tartan at a time.